LVNMUZIQ c/o LVNMUZIQ
Artist LVNMUZIQ, aka Liz Snavely, always knew she wanted to be a full-time musician. In 2006, she turned her dream into a reality.
“It’s sad to me to see so many people live their entire lives in a job that they absolutely can’t stand. I was that person and I knew I needed to make a radical change. I needed to find my soul.” (LVNMUZIQ)
Jolie du Pre: What made you decide that "Open Mic Night" was a way to help you overcome your stage fright?
LVNMUZIQ: I used to visit Billy’s, a local blues bar in Grand Rapids, MI, on Monday nights to watch the open mic before I was comfortable to play in front of anyone, including my own girlfriend and my friends. I was terrified to step outside the comfort of my own living room and play in front of others, so I knew I had to face my fear. Playing open mic seemed like the most natural progression in the steps necessary to overcome my stage fright. I have always been really shy and had stage fright. The only way to overcome your fears is to face your fears. So one night, my friend, Laura, and I went to the open mic to play 3 songs. I was so nervous. Laura played lead guitar with me. During the 1st song, my first open mic ever, I broke a string. So I had to ask to use someone else’s guitar. But I got through it and was so proud that I had FINALLY taken the first step on my musical journey. I think open mics are the best way to practice in front of a live audience before you start booking your own shows. In addition to playing in front of others, you get to learn from others and see a variety of musicians perform. I still perform at open mics on some of my days off when I’m touring. It keeps me fresh and gives me that live practice in front of an audience of strangers. It’s always learning and growing experience.
Jolie du Pre: Can you describe what it felt like your first time up on stage?
LVNMUZIQ: Having been a competitive athlete most of my life, the feelings of performing on stage the first time were similar to the feelings I’ve had prior to a sporting event or race I’ve participated in. My first time on stage I remember my heart was pounding from the anxiety and the excitement. I couldn’t breathe. My stomach was upset. I was shaky and quivery and my face turned beat red. I knew the stage is where my body belonged, but I had to convince my mind of that. Despite the fear and the uncomfortable body emotions, I wanted to cry because I knew I had accomplished much by having taken the first step toward making music my full-time career. It was a HUGE step for me. Without taking this step, I would still be playing in my living room without an audience and no one would be hearing what I have to say through my music.
Jolie du Pre: What other obstacles have you had to overcome while learning the music business and trying to build a following?
LVNMUZIQ: I’ve had to overcome many obstacles. I’ve had to learn to eat, sleep, and breathe music, believe in myself, gain knowledge of the independent music world and other musicians, learn how to start my own business, make CDs, promote, advertise, book shows, etc. If I didn’t first believe in myself, I never could have begun this musical journey. I had to overcome major anxiety issues in order to perform in front of an audience of strangers and somehow form a connection with them before the show is over. I had to quit my full-time corporate job and somehow survive on way less income and I lost my house in the process. It takes lots of time to promote yourself properly for each show. I have to spend hours every day in front of the computer trying to get more folks to my shows. The economy has been a huge obstacle, however, I keep telling myself that if I can make it during these difficult economical times, then when the economy changes and becomes better, I will be okay and I will survive. I can’t afford to hire people to help me, so I have to lean on others or figure out a way to do everything myself. It’s really all been on-the-job-training on me. I’ve been learning by trial and error. And it’s been working so far for 3 ½ years. Now I can spend time focusing on trying to make it work even better.
Jolie du Pre: Have you found other artists to be supportive of you and your efforts?
LVNMUZIQ: I’ve definitely had moments of picking the brains of other successful independent musicians to see what they are doing that works and doesn’t work, but you can only lean on other artists so much. They are also very busy focusing on their own art. You have to find your own path – your own way. Local musicians that I have become friends with have shown vast support by playing with me at local shows and telling others about my music. I’ve also grown quite fond of bartering with other artists. I have a great friend who is an artist who has designed a few of my postcards and one of my CDs. In exchange for her art, I have written a song for her. So it’s a fair trade art for art. That has been some of the most beneficial means of support I could imagine. There are also other national touring independent musicians that I admire and try to set up shows with when I’m touring. To me it is very supportive of them to want to play a show with me when I may have way less experience then they have but they believe in me and my music. There’s a special camaraderie amongst musicians. It helped that for 3 years I had a house concert series out of my home in Grand Rapids, MI. There’s a special camaraderie amongst musicians. I’ve had about 14 national touring independent musicians perform at my house concert series. That has helped with networking and getting to know others who are successfully living their musical dream.
Jolie du Pre: Based on your experience, what advice would you give someone who has dreams of being a singer or musician?
LVNMUZIQ: First of all, if it’s what you really really want to do then you should just do it. Give it a try. I know many musicians who regret never giving it a try. So just try it. You may or may not like it. But I see the same thing over and over again with many talented musicians. They have the talent but no drive. You have to be self-motivated and disciplined. Playing music full-time takes a lot of time promoting yourself. You can’t just book your gigs. You have to have people show up. I think it’s important to have some source of income coming in when you’re first getting established, so I think it’s important to have some type of part-time job to help pay the bills. I found it nearly impossible to work a full-time job and put the time and effort into music that I needed to, so for me, working part-time was the solution. Hang with others that are like-minded and are living their musical dream. Hang out with folks that believe in you and support you. Find others who have been doing music full-time and learn from them. Pick their brain. I would recommend reading a lot on the subject of music as a career. Most importantly, no matter what your passion is in life, don’t let it consume you. Remember to take time for yourself, make time for folks important to you, and don’t let yourself get burned out. It seems most people want the reward of anything they do, but they don’t want to put the hard work into it. Music is just that – a lot of hard work and a lot of beautiful rewards. I love playing music, traveling, and meeting new people, so music is the perfect career for me. I’ve never worked so hard in my life for less money than I’ve ever made. But I just believe everyday that it’s going to just keep getting better and better. Come up with a plan and put it into action. If you have a musical dream, don’t just talk about it, put it into action. You will never know what you are capable of unless you try. Read books. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. I recommend any musician to begin by playing for your friends, then at open mics, than book your own local gigs, then your own regional gigs, and eventually your own national gigs. Pick a few choice cities nearby to get established in and then branch out from there. Use your resources. I have 5 CDs and most of them have been recorded in friend’s houses who have their own studio. You don’t need to go and spend thousands of dollars recording a CD. The quality you can get in a home studio is good enough to be played on the radio. So lean on those around you for help and never give up hope that you will achieve all that you want to achieve.
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